Although I am still fairly new to NYC, I have learned a few tips from trial and error. I am living in Queens, so I’m not sure how relevant or correct these points are in the other boroughs, but since finding my footing a little bit, life has gotten significantly easier than it was 5 months ago when I first moved here for law school. New York was also the first time I had ever taken public transportation, so that was one of the biggest adjustments for me and a lot of my tips revolve around the struggles related to traveling. Enjoy!
1. The back doors on the bus don’t just magically open. Wait until the green light by the door is on, then push (a little hard) on the yellow tape or handles.
2. Due to the number of small businesses, a lot of places don’t take card. Cash is necessary.
3. Buses won’t automatically stop at every stop. Therefore, you need to know which stop you need, and be ready to request it, if necessary. Do this by pressing the black tape (between every few windows, along top edge of the wall, and by the doors), pressing the button found on the handles, or pulling the string. A sign saying “stop requested” will light up at the front and center of the bus, and the driver will stop at the immediate next scheduled stop.
4. When a license plate on a car begins with the letter T, that car is a private taxi. It’s not necessarily as sketchy as it sounds, but private taxis aren’t as monitored as the yellow or green cabs, so they are usually a little more expensive because of the lack of regulations.
5. Express taxis and limited buses don’t stop at every stop – only the major ones, like bus stops at intersections. You can usually tell on the map which are limited stops because they have some sort of symbol by the street name,
6. If you know which direction you need to go in, get on the side of the street where cars go that way. This way you get on a bus going in the correct direction! It sounds simple, but it took me weeks to figure this out – and have found only one exception.
7. Travel time takes significantly longer than any maps or travel planning websites tell you because everything is late. Plan for tons of extra time.
8. Because there are so many people, chances are, you won’t run into that random stranger again. That’s good in some ways, but also causes people to be a lot more forward. Therefore, to get your point across, either positive or negative, you have to be more forward as well.
9. People are not as mean as the stigma indicates, but they generally aren’t friendly ether. For the most part (other than flirting) people don’t sit around and talk to strangers. With that being said, if you have a question, I’ve rarely had a time when someone was very rude or unwilling to answer it.
10. Buses come less often (or not at all) after midnight. Plan accordingly to avoid waiting outside (especially by yourself!) late at night. If the bus isn’t coming for awhile – it’s probably better, and much safer, to spring for a cab.